Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Bioprinting Firm Cellink to Acquire 5th Company in 3 Years, In Vitro Firm MatTek

ST Medical Devices

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Just days after Cellink signed its latest acquisition agreement with global system supplier Ginolis, the company has announced a new takeover, this time of MatTek. A global leader of in vitro technology for clinical and pre-clinical studies, MatTek will strengthen Cellink’s alternative drug testing models for research and add the most extensive portfolio of proprietary 3D human tissue and disease models in the world. The business move is part of a bioconvergence growth strategy to deliver high-end services and a full suite of technologies to fulfill Cellink’s vision of creating the “future of medicine.”

The $68 million acquisition of the Massachusetts-based MatTek will add 36-plus years of experience in innovative 3D reconstructed human-derived tissue models used for product development and regulatory testing applications. Once the transaction is finalized by March 24, 2021, MatTek will retain its name and management and continue as part of Cellink’s bioprinting business area to be consolidated in the second-quarter financial report 2021.

Cellink’s Co-Founder and CEO, Erik Gatenholm, said the deal would further realize the company’s vision to reduce, and in some cases eliminate, animal testing by providing alternative models – one of the main reasons the company was founded in 2016. Through the merger of a strong, purpose-driven agenda and trailblazing technology, Gatenholm expects to combine solutions that improve people’s lives.

“By combining CELLINK and MatTek’s revolutionary technologies, we can offer market-leading in vitro methods and finally replace controversial animal tests that are limited by their physiological relevance to predict human results,” explained Gatenholm. “We see several strong synergies in combining CELLINK’s cutting-edge, bioprinting technology and modular large-scale industrial robotic flows with MatTek’s 3D reconstructed, human-derived tissue models creating a world-leading tissue model offering, based on decades of research, creating the largest proprietary library of 3D human tissue and disease models in the world.”

MatTek is dedicated to advancing innovative in vitro science and producing synergistic life science products and services to support research. Image courtesy of MatTek.

Similarly, MatTek’s President and CEO Alex Armento described the transition as the “next step in our journey” that will provide his company the opportunity to become a member of an “innovative bioconvergence powerhouse.” Excited about the chance to reach a wider community and continue on the mission to end animal testing, Armento said he hopes to see MatTek’s expertise and offerings flourish.

Founded by two chemical engineering professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1985, MatTek is a pioneer and market leader in advanced in vitro science for safely testing chemicals, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Its innovative life science technologies have offered novel in vitro human tissue models, cell isolation, and cell culture to assess product safety and efficacy that meet customers’ ethical demands. From testing tobacco and vape products with its EpiAirway tissue models to evaluating novel ingredients and formulations in cosmetics with the EpiDermFT, its wide range of products was created to “empower researchers,” as the company suggests.

Testing tobacco and vape products with EpiAirway is a reliable and cost-effective method to assess safety and efficacy and provide claims substantiation. Image courtesy of MatTek.

MatTek is Cellink’s fifth acquisition in less than three years. In November 2018, it acquired German biodispensing technology provider Dispendix for €5 million ($6 million), strengthening Cellink’s 3D bioprinting offerings by increasing the rate of bioink allocation. This transaction was followed by the takeover of single-cell dispensing firm Cytena in 2019 for €30 million ($36 million). A spin-out of the University of Freiburg‘s Institute for Microsystems Technology in Germany, Cytena’s printer platforms helped Cellink streamline workflows and enhance its pharmaceutical industry presence.

Amid a raging pandemic, Cellink continued to grow in 2020, choosing to acquire precision dispensing company Scienion in its biggest deal ever with an €80 million ($96 million) takeover. Later, in February 2021, Gatenholm announced that Cellink would be acquiring Ginolis for €70 million ($84 million). The advanced robotics and diagnostics automation business provides solutions for medical and diagnostics companies worldwide, currently manufacturing systems for COVID-19 tests in the U.S. and Europe. It will provide tools that Cellink needs to ensure higher quality bioprinting experiments and results, faster throughput of printed tissues, and more reliable and reproducible data.

New content on 3D bioprinting disease models, speeding up therapeutic discoveries in vitro. Image courtesy of Cellink.

As the latest company to join the roster of firms under the Cellink umbrella, MatTek will supply 3D reconstructed, human-derived tissue models. Combined with Cellink’s cutting-edge bioprinting technology and modular large-scale industrial robotic flows, the alliance will facilitate large-scale processes from early R&D to high throughput production. Moreover, Cellink’s existing workflows can be integrated with MatTek’s product range. They will now offer researchers a better way to gather data through more physiologically relevant models, leading to better predictions. More importantly, by providing alternative testing models, it will enable the reduction, and in some cases elimination, of animal testing.

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